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  • 10K Club Interview: Meet Mark Smiley and James Garrett of Rolling BB-8 !!

    • lego ideas
    • 10k club
    • mark smiley
    • james garrett
    • rolling bb-8 !!

    Today we have the unique pleasure of introducing two fan designers Mark Smiley (mjsmiley) and James Garrett (artbot138) who make up the creative partnership behind Rolling BB-8 !!, the little astromech droid that rolled into our hearts in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They are this weeks' combined LEGO Ideas 10K Club members. 

    Mark and James' passion for Star Wars and LEGO made BB-8 the perfect candidate for a LEGO model but it didn't come without its challenges. In fact they had to use all of their engineering chops to overcome some tough obstacles when building this little fella. Mark and James share their journey of creating what has already become a very iconic Star Wars character.  

    Help us congratulate Mark and James on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!

     

    About Yourself

    1. Where are you from?
      MS: I’m from the Chicago suburbs, went to college in North Carolina, and currently live in Plano, Texas.

      JG: I live in Dallas, Texas.

     

    1. How old are you?
      MS: I’m clocking in at 34 these days.

      JG: I'm 42. 

     

    1. What do you study or do for a living?
      MS: I’m an engineer at Texas Instruments. I work at one of TI’s semiconductor plants and focus on the DLP product line. DLP is a chip that has millions of microscopic mirrors sitting on millions of microscopic hinges that each have electrodes that cause the mirror to see-saw. This is used to create projected images by bouncing colored light off of the flipping mirrors, which each correspond to a pixel on the screen. I saw the LEGO Movie at a theatre that used DLP projection!

      JG: I’m an instructional designer working in the Bio-Tech and Pharma industries. I create educational materials used to train scientists, doctors, researchers, and technicians. I’m able to combine my interests in education, science, and graphic design into my work.

     

    1. What hobbies do you have?
      MS: I play guitar and sing in a band. I started a "build your own mini golf club" with some other guys (we are building a mini golf course for the kiddos). I dabble a bit in videography and graphic arts. I’ve written some songs. I obviously collect and play with LEGO quite a bit. I have a 1 year old now so baby raising is a bit more than a hobby. I used to draw comics for the NCSU school newspaper and continue to draw and sketch. And I used to be on a performance swing dance team for some reason. I like the little quadcopter RC toys quite a bit.  Oh, and we like to travel. So far we’ve managed to visit each continent except one.

      JG:  I’m an artist. I paint, sculpt, mold/cast, design apparel, illustrate, and 3D print. My work involves scifi and pop culture themes.  I’m very interested/active in the “art” toy scene. I collect art, vintage Star Wars toys, LEGO, and vinyl records. I love the cinema and going to galleries.
       

    ^ Mark and James show the importance of having fun!
     

    1. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
      MS: Childhood, prior to memory more than likely. I had a lot of LEGO bricks as a kid - back then they came in 5 colors or so. I think things slowed down some, but then my mom started bringing me Star Wars sets as surprises. My step brother and I spent a lot of our time building LEGO together. In high school we got snowed in and had a week off. I spent the week trying to make a stop motion LEGO video using a video camera, and a computer peripheral that would take screen scrapes from the video signal. It took forever and most of the pictures were destroyed by a computer virus. I picked the addiction back up again about a year ago and have been catching up for lost LEGO time.

      JG: I have fond memories of playing with LEGO as a child. I loved the openness of the platform – I could make it into anything. My interest was reignited when LEGO obtained the Star Wars license. It seemed like an organic fit. 

     

    1. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
      MS: I really liked my LEGO Car Wash set. I liked how the bristle brushes moved out of the way when the car rolled through. My current day favorites though are the Star Wars microfighters. The Millennium Falcon is perhaps the best. I think they are great. I like how they are small enough that you can pretty much bring them with you and they are affordable so you can buy them on impulse.

      JG: I really love the large 10225 R2-D2. The scale and likeness are great. I smile every time I see one.   

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
      MS: The minifigure probably doesn’t count as an element, but it is the focus of my current collection these days.

      JG: The minifig is an iconic piece of design. The form factor can have almost any character laid over it – but I love them even in a blank state. 

    ^ Mark shows off a part of his minifig collection. We're glad he snuck Wall-E into the shot!
     

    1. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
      MS: I am not tapped in enough to exactly follow other designers. If I kept up with official LEGO designers, I would more than likely keel over with jealousy over how much I would love to have their job. If LEGO would have me, I’d sign up today!

      JG: While not all of it is for me, I tend to find some of the work by Citizen Brick interesting. I also pay a lot of attention to large and life scale work (like the X-Wing). I have aspirations to work at that scale.

     

    1.  Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
      MS: I frequent these two sites to get some daily LEGO news: The Brick Fan and Toys N Bricks.

      JG: Brick Nerd and From Bricks to Bothans.  

     

    About Your Project

    1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
      MS: I actually really just wanted to have a passive BB-8 toy. The only options on the market were either solid form statues or electronic and I was hoping to have something that could move, but not use batteries. I had some LEGO planets on my desk and I got hooked on the idea of trying to build the BB-8 myself.

      JG: Mark and I are both Star Wars fans and I was particularly taken by the design of BB-8. He feels very modern, while honoring the design sensibilities of classic astromech droids. BB-8’s ability to roll seems integral to the character. So when Mark suggested that we could use the Star Wars planet sphere as BB-8’s body, I felt we had something that could represent the character and have a high degree of playability.

     

    1. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
      MS: This turned out to be a very challenging project. It literally was a balancing act between weight, size, friction, and magnetic attraction. For instance, the heavier the head, the more counterweight that was needed in the body, which is space limited. To get the head to stay on firmly, more magnets would be ideal, but the more magnetic strength lead to more friction which made it so the head would not be able to move quickly enough when the body was rolled. I resolved to use tiny wheels to reduce friction and prevent paint scratches, but those add height to the head which leads to needing more counterweight and magnetic strength. As you can see, everything was a balancing act.

      I ultimately bought one of every dome shaped and ball shaped LEGO element that LEGO has made since the 80s. I also ordered dozens of different parts and brackets just to see if they could be used to tweak the design and try out new possible part combinations. I tried using the planet sphere and the geosphere balls from the Jurassic World sets. I loved the JW Geosphere because it offered more buildability, but they were too small to fit in more than one boat weight.

      On top of all that, my original attempts were to make this model omnidirectional. I ordered some pricey steel ball rollers that were from LEGO Mindstorms sets. The rollers provided weight, and I came up with a really clever way to get four into a perfect formation to roll on the bottom of the inside of the sphere, but, the rollers had too much internal inertia and friction that the BB-8 body would not roll sprightly enough. This is why I converted it to a single axle design. I am of course presenting the project as an idea, and would be thrilled if LEGO's designers figured out how to make it omnidirectional.

      The overall hardest part was likely the head. Getting a head design that could be as light as possible, house important features like the BB-8 “eyes”, room for two magnets and wheels was a tricky testimony of persistence. I tried countless configurations.  

      JG: We debated the dome the most. Ultimately we selected one that we felt best matched the proportions of the ball. Ideally we would have liked to use a dome with pegs that would have allowed us to attach BB-8’s antennas. However, those domes seemed out of proportion. 


      Prototypes showing the various iterations that Mark and James's Rolling BB-8 went through
       
    1. How long did it take to complete the model?
      MS: I spent a long time fidgeting and trying out different pieces and combinations. Overall I spent hours here and there for about 3 months to get it to the point that it was in when it was submitted. After submitting, I kept fidgeting. I worked to add in more play features like the pop up monster and the data drive carriers. I also continued to work on the omnidirectional and head designs.

      JG: We worked on the project off and on over a course of about three months. Most of that time was waiting for different domes that we had sourced to arrive.

     

    1. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
      MS: It was of course a mighty fine feeling. Friends and family were texting me with minute by minute updates and posting to Facebook and of course the commenters on LEGO Ideas were running wild. It felt like a bit of a little party even though we were all spaced out across the country/world.

      JG: It took 31 days to reach 10,000 votes. I’ve loved LEGO and Star Wars since I was a child, so I was very excited that the project was well received. I felt like we had a good design and campaign plan, but frankly I was blown away by the reaction and how fast we reached 10K.

     

    1. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
      MS & JG: The BB-8 is currently about 111 parts and the base station is about 13 parts. Total is roughly 244 parts.
       


    About LEGO Ideas

    1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
      MS: I’ll focus not on the popularity of BB-8 but more so the power of having a unique approach to a very popular LEGO idea. In our case, there were quite a few LEGO BB-8 models already submitted so we started out a little late to the game. I think what brought ours to 10K was the unique functionality of it. Not only that, I think people appreciate the low part count which would generally indicate the set will be easier to afford.

      Other contributors (in my opinion) and things I like in other ideas are:
      • Affordable
      • Built with physical bricks and not virtual
      • Functional
      • Creative

      The Campaign: Internet campaigning is one of the biggest parts to a successful LEGO Ideas project I think. We scoured for lots of sites to post the idea to and then hoped it would get picked up by at least one popular site. We were lucky to have Gizmodo write about our set. From that point on, dozens of other sites picked up the story. The brick wall turns out to be the login. Getting people to create a log in was difficult. I even had family turn down at that point. We had hundreds of thousands of people exposed to our project but only a small fraction made logins. At that point, the most important people to a project’s success are people already with LEGO Ideas profiles. Since there is no way to campaign to people with an Ideas login, the most vital part of the campaign becomes the weekly email that gets sent out. We saw a huge boost every week when that email came out. So you absolutely have to make it onto the popular list or Staff Picks to get momentum going. To stay on the list, you have to scrounge for more and more outsiders to keep your numbers up to stay listed. As long as we were on that list, we saw solid momentum.

      JG: Create a “media package” beforehand. It should contain well lit (high res) photos, a compelling video, and copy (tweet, few sentences, and paragraph) that can be used on social media and websites.   

      Also be social media savvy. Always post with a call to action. Engage with supporters when they like, share and comment. Be prepared for negative comments and handle them in a constructive way.

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
      MS: I really like the Tiny Adventure set (super creative), the Space Balls (Was thinking of building that one myself), and the Physics set (love marble roller coasters).

      JG: I think the Wall-E project is amazing. The functional treads and the eyes’ ability to emote really captures the spirit and functionality of the character. I thought about this model a lot as we tried to capture BB-8’s character/functionality in our model.

     

    1. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
      MS: I currently don’t have any other ideas up, but I have several works in progress and finished ideas at home. I sort of didn’t want to jinxs the BB-8 project by uploading other ideas. I love the concept of LEGO Ideas. Obviously there are triumphantly creative and talented builders out there, so it’s a wonderful way to inspire and bring such ideas to possible fruition.

      JG: In my experience the LEGO Ideas community is made up of a positive group of people and I enjoy interacting with them. LEGO Ideas is a great platform to share and inspire builders. As far as tips, I’d encourage builders to not be discouraged if their first project does not reach 10K votes. Good design often involves redesign. Learn what you can from the process and keep working.

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  • 10K Club Interview: Meet Robert Bontenbal of Old Fishing Store

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    • 10k club
    • robert bontenbal
    • robenanne
    • old fishing store

    The beautiful Old Fishing Store is what happens when several big passions collide. 

    Today we have the pleasure of introducing the very talented Dutch fan designer Robert Bontenbal, a.k.a. robenanne - this weeks LEGO Ideas 10K Club member. Ahoy Robert! Robert's professional approch to his project consisted of lots of design preparation and continual updates to his project based on feedback that he received. He shares much more about his experiences in this 10K Club Interview.

    Help us congratulate Robert on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!

     

     

    About Yourself

    1. Where are you from?
      The Netherlands.

     

    1. How old are you?
      I am 51 years young.

     

    1. What do you study or do for a living?
      Architectural drafter.

     

    1. What hobbies do you have?
      I like fishing, photography, LEGO.

     

    1. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
      When I was young I loved to play with LEGO bricks, and I remember that my first set was the Firetruck 336 (pcs:77 1968-1970). After getting my two sons, my interest rekindled and we enjoyed playing together with Lego. Especially the super heroes sets are a favorite of my sons. Our storage room has been turned into a LEGO room for the boys. Don’t ask my wife…
       

    ^ Don't ask Robert's wife about his LEGO room. But do mention it to other LEGO enthusiasts because it's a beauty!

    1. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
      The Ultimate Millennium Falcon 10179. I enjoy building the big sets and this set has a lot of details and is not simple to build.

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
      That’s a hard question. I think the 2x4 LEGO brick which is one of the older bricks and can be the basis for a lot of designs.

     

    1. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
      Probably Angus MacLane who designed Wall.E (set 21303). This set was really fun to build.

     

    1.  Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
      BrickLink and MOCpages

     

    About Your Project

    1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
      Fishing has always been my hobby. From fishing in the Caribbean, where I lived for a while, to fishing in Holland. My interest in fishing and my job as an architectural draughtsman came together in this model. I got my inspiration from the HO train model houses, the LEGO Christmas houses and sea villages.

     

    1. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
      Initially I created the building. After submitting it, people commented and asked about the inside of the building. This was the moment where I could get creative and designed the inside. This was a lot of fun. And it also got me thinking, that the building could have a seasonal design with different faces for the winter and summer.
       

    ^ Robert shows off his workspace. Looks like he's a Batman fan as well!

    1. How long did it take to complete the model?
      It was a complicated model and it took some time to design it and adjust it. It probably took me a couple of months to get it completely as I wanted it to be.

     

    1. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
      I was totally excited that it only took six weeks to reach the 10,000 votes! It was also a lot of fun to read the comments and read that people were interested in the model and indicated that they would like to buy it.

     

    1. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
      The first design was about 2160 LEGO bricks. However, after adding the interior, it grew out to be about 2480 LEGO bricks. But it could be less in further development.


    About LEGO Ideas

    1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
      Inspiration is very important for the model and a theme that can help develop the model. It is good to put the sketches on paper, maybe use a mood board, to determine the details and color schemes. Especially the use of the right colors has been important in my design.

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
      Merchant’s House by bigboy99899.

     

    1. You have other projects on LEGO Ideas, what is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
      When you start out, the fun part is the idea that your model might be chosen to be developed as a LEGO set. But after submitting my model on the platform, the waiting, the comments from other LEGO Ideas community members and checking out how your model is doing is very exciting. It makes me want to check regularly on how things are going, but also to see what other cool designs are uploaded to the platform.

      My tip for people who are considering uploading an idea, for starters: just do it! Use your creativity and have fun. Even the more simple models get votes. And who knows what happens.

     

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  • Introducing LEGO® Ideas 21307 Caterham Seven 620R

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    • caterham seven 620r
    • 21307

    The wait is over! We've been polishing this yellow and black beauty all night so that we could finally present to you the first official images and details of the LEGO Ideas 21307 Caterham Seven 620R! Measuring in at 771 bricks distributed across 3” (10cm) in height, 11” (28cm) in length and 5” (14cm) in width, this Caterham contains stunning details to reproduce that awe inspiring Caterham look. 

    This LEGO Caterham is racing to a store near you with availability from the 1st of October, 2016 for a recommended retail price of USD 79.99 / EUR 79,99.

    Here is the official product description: 

    Create a LEGO® version of the Caterham Seven 620R, a custom-built sports car with an unashamed old-school vibe. Power steering? No chance. Electric windows? Forget it. The Caterham Seven is definitely not for the faint-hearted—luxury is for wimps! Remove the nose cone, engine cover or engine to take a closer look at the authentic details of a LEGO model that’s for true car connoisseurs only.

     

    Carl Greatrix, fan designer, and Henrik Andersen, LEGO Designer, share their insights:

    "One of the most exhilarating drives I’ve ever had was out on the track in a Caterham Seven. It is brutally fast due to its light weight and tremendous fun to be in. It really struck a chord in my heart that I never forgot", Carl Greatrix a.k.a. bricktrix_Carl explains as he talks about his love for Caterham cars. 

    This love turned to inspiration for his future LEGO Caterham model, Carl explains "When I got back into building LEGO car models I thought the shape of the vehicle would lend itself to being modelled well in LEGO bricks as it is very angular and if I could find a suitable scale then I would be able to get all the details into it that I would love to see".

    Henrik Andersen, LEGO designer, shared his enthusiasm for Carl's work “Carl really did a great job of converting the real car’s shape into a LEGO version as both the sloping front and the hood are really complex”.

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  • 10K Club Interview: Meet David Falkner of Modular Train Station

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    • 10k club
    • david falkner
    • legowolf
    • modular train station

    You may very well have played one of the numerous videogames that David has worked on, today we welcome the multi-talented David Falkner, a.k.a. LegoWolf, for his LEGO building talents. Originally from the UK, David was inspired to build his Modular Train Station as a result of a long-lasting interest in trains going back to LEGO trains in the 80's, as well as photographs of photographs from nineteenth century European train stations!

    How long did it take to build? What challenges did he have to overcome with such a complex modular? David reveals it all in the following interview. Make sure you also check out how David integrated his Modular Train Station with existing official modular buildings. 

    Help us congratulate David on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!

     

     

    About Yourself

    1. Where are you from?
      I have lived for most of my life in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My family moved here from the UK originally, but I consider this my home.

     

    1. How old are you?
      I’m 42 years old.

     

    1. What do you study or do for a living?
      I am a software developer and make videogames at BioWare studios, a division of Electronic Arts. I was the Lead Programmer for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as well as Mass Effect 1 through 3.

     

    1. What hobbies do you have?
      I love to build, and so I am constantly playing about with models, LEGO, or small programming projects at home. I enjoy photography, which has come in handy when taking product shots of my models. My other big hobby is tabletop roleplaying. I am playing through two different Pathfinder Adventure Paths at the moment.
       

     

    1. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
      I have been a fan of LEGO since the first sets that our parents bought for us in the 1970s. All the children in our family enjoyed LEGO, and we pooled our sets together early on to build the largest town we could in my bedroom, along with an enormous pile of loose bricks that we would build crazy stuff with, from marble madness boards to rollercoasters to spaceships that transformed into robots. When I moved out on my own, I did not have enough space for our LEGO collection, and so I had to content myself with a single Technic set that at least let me noodle about. It was not until a few years ago that I stumbled into my first LEGO shop in Disney World and saw all of the exciting new sets that I had been missing. It is fortunate that I have more space at home now, because it is rapidly filling up with modular buildings, Star Wars and Marvel models and a whole lot more!

     

    1. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
      For purely sentimental reasons, I would have to say “7822 – Railway Station” from 1980. We had limited access to LEGO’s extensive train collections in Canada because of the power conversion challenges with the 12V sets, but this set was brought over by our relatives in the UK and it whet my appetite. I treasured it for its rarity, as well as its enormous size and versatility. That station, as well as the variations that I designed with it, was one of the anchors of our LEGO town. A close second would be “497 – Galaxy Explorer” which was the heart of my space collection.

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
      I do not have any favourites, although I do prefer bricks that have flexible uses. Large “pre-fab” bricks that serve as entire sections of wall, for instance, are hard to use in different ways that do not look like the original model they were designed for. That said, I have seen some designers here make use of these large bricks in ways that I had never imagined, like the use of DUPLO parts in the Modular Ice Cream Parlor, so perhaps I should try harder!

     

    1. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
      The LEGO designer that inspires me most is Pete Strege, whose models can be found on Flickr. He makes many buildings at a scale that would be difficult for me to imitate, but they are packed with architectural details and interior designs that send me scurrying back to my desk to try out for myself.

     

    1.  Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
      Flickr is a treasure trove of LEGO inspiration, and the fan community there is friendly and supportive. I check that feed compulsively. Eurobricks is similar, and also a great resource to refer back to for ideas on techniques. 

     

    About Your Project

    1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
      I have always been a fan of LEGO’s trains. I grew up in the 1980s when LEGO had a selection of rolling stock and locomotives that allowed some of the sophistication of dedicated model railway systems, like electronic signalling and decoupling. From the time I got my first train set, the railway layout became a key feature of our LEGO town. Years later, once LEGO started releasing modular buildings, that old excitement was rekindled and I started to plan out a new LEGO street. It just felt incomplete without a train but there was no clear way to bring them together, and so I decided to fix that problem.
       

    ^ Modular buildings have a special place in David's heart.

    1. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
      The trickiest and most important part was definitely the glass roof. I had a clear idea of the arch shape that I wanted because I had pulled together many reference photographs from nineteenth century European train stations, but curved surfaces require ingenuity in LEGO. Other LEGO modellers have created some fantastic glass canopies, although usually at a larger scale than I could not accommodate in my 32x32 baseplate. I went through three or four different iterations before settling on a similar technique to the skylight in LEGO’s “10224 - Town Hall”. The scalloped effect to the roofline was not my original intent, but rather a happy accident that I embraced as I played with various techniques to build the curve that I wanted.

     

    1. How long did it take to complete the model?
      The first version was the work of a couple of weekends. It was exciting to try my hand at the level of detail required for a modular building, and so the work was very focused, and I lost sleep as I lost track of time. The later versions were spread out over about four months, as I realised what I did not like about the design and puzzled out better solutions. My friends and family had valuable suggestions for improvements too. I took my time with this phase until I felt my changes were just changes and no longer improvements. You can see some of the major iterations in my flickr album.

     

    1. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
      It took a little over 8 months to hit 10,000. Actually, it took precisely 246 days, which I know because I checked compulsively; I even wrote a Python script to help me stay up to date with the results! The initial response was overwhelming, taking me over 2800 votes in the first two weeks, but inevitably, the pace became slower and steadier after that. The support for my model was exciting and flattering, and I think the interest indicates that my model fills a practical need for a lot of people’s LEGO towns.

     

    1. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
      I used 3006 bricks, which is a bit high for a modular building because I have included an unusual level of detail in the back as well as the front. I can think of several ways to bring the part count down, but I have avoided making those changes so far because I am not certain which approaches would reduce the cost of the set while preserving the look best. For instance, is it more helpful to reduce the number of bricks, the total weight, or the number of different types of brick? I hope that the review process will give me some helpful suggestions.
       

    ^ David shows how his Modular Train Station came to life!


    About LEGO Ideas

    1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
      I think a lot of people are already doing it right: design something that you are passionate about, because the most important thing is to have fun. But the best thing to do if you want your project to be successful is consider what other LEGO fans like too, and what kind of play your model can give them. Once you have posted, be gracious with feedback, both complimentary and constructive, and be generous with your feedback on other people’s models too. And, of course, post in all the places where you think people who would might support your model congregate, including LEGO fan sites, social networks and special interest sites. I advertised to some model railway groups, for instance.

     

    1. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
      If you were to ask me that question every week, I would give a different answer each time! There are so many wonderful projects to choose from, and browsing new models is addictive. At the moment I am quite partial to The Parthenon, which is rather like an Architecture series model, but at a larger scale and with tremendous detail packed in, from the painted marble frescos to the statue of Athena in the centre. It is a lovely use of the owl part.

     

    1. You have other projects on LEGO Ideas, what is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
      I have been delighted to discover how welcoming and supportive the AFOL community is. LEGO Ideas is a great place to share your designs, where people are generous with their support as well as suggestions for improving your designs. I recommend sharing your model on the site regardless of its chances of making it to production. If nothing else, you might make new friends on the way. It is also a great place to browse for inspiration. The best tip that I can think of before designing a model for LEGO Ideas is to consider who your audience is and what they will be able to do with your set. Is the model just attractive and nostalgic, or is there also some kind of fun people can have with it? I have seen several sets on LEGO Ideas that would obviously make my town more interesting, or that would be great for play, and those ones excite me the most.
       

    ^ How many LEGO Ideas sets can you spot in the above photo?

     

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  • Update: Improvements to Search, Discover, Tags, and changes to Supporter Milestones and Targets

    Today marks the second of three planned updates to LEGO Ideas this fall, aimed at improving the experience by analyzing your survey feedback and comments, our user experience testing, and conversations with many of you at LEGO fan events.

    Here’s a list of updates:

    • New Discover page filter for Project Category lets you choose to view only “original” projects, only projects based on third-party intellectual property (IP), or both. Choose “Original” if you don’t want to see projects based on movies, games, brands, etc. Original will show you projects based on existing LEGO playthemes like Ninjago, Friends, or Classic Space, as well as all those completely original concepts by LEGO Ideas members. These are filtered based on how members classify their own projects when asked about IP before submitting. If you happen to see a project incorrectly categorized, let us know by email while we work our way through the new filtered lists ourselves to check for any mistakes.
    • New Discover page Trending This Week filter. This works just like Trending this Month, but for the week.
    • Discover page Staff Picks view now sorts projects by Staff Pick date. This should be more intuitive for frequent visitors. Before, this view sorted by the date the project was posted.
    • Goodbye, Search page, hello Discover page. We “fixed” the search bar in the site header to load the Discover page which allows you to filter and sort your results.
    • Member search moves to the Community page. We improved the Leaderboard so it now behaves like the Discover page; you can search for members and sort results by several parameters.
    • Tags are now clickable! Open a project and scroll down to the tags. Click one and the Discover page will load with the tag added to the filter.

     

    Changes to Supporter Milestones and Targets

    The biggest change is a Guidelines update we’ve applied to all projects starting today.

    We’re attempting to balance making LEGO Ideas as open as possible to members with a range of skill levels, with peoples’ desire to browse and support beautifully presented models. We consistently hear from people who want to see more projects they think are “high quality” and fewer they think are “low quality.” We say think, because quality is highly subjective. This feedback persists even when our moderators filter out the majority of submissions for not meeting our Project Quality Standards.

    The most successful Ideas projects—those that reach 5,000 and 10,000 supporters—share one thing in common: every one of these projects posted since LEGO Ideas launched in April 2014 reached 100 supporters in their first 30 days. No project that has gone on to reach 5k or 10k supporters has taken longer. It could very well be that the “wisdom of crowds” is the best quality filter of all. We’ve decided to let you tell us which projects are high quality by doing what you do best: supporting your favorite projects.

    Starting today, projects will have 60 days to reach their first 100 supporters before receiving time extensions.

    • New projects will now have 60 days to reach 100 supporters. Once they reach that milestone, they’ll receive a one-year boost. The six-month boosts at 1,000 and 5,000 remain the same.
    • Existing projects with less than 100 supporters have had their Days Left clock adjusted to 60. We’ve left an Official Comment on the affected projects letting them know.

     

    While in the short term we’re adjusting the Days Left on some projects down, the change grants new projects an additional 60 days beyond the current two years to reach 10,000 supporters.

    Why did you remove Days Left from existing projects?

    We decided to put projects with fewer than 100 supporters on an even playing field with new projects. Otherwise, we would wait a year before seeing the full benefit of the new expiration deadlines.

    How many projects were affected?

    Approximately 58% of the 5,500 active projects have had their Days Left counter reset to 60. Had we set the threshold to 30 days, 66% of projects would have been effected. These percentages are based on a sampling of active projects as of July 24.

    What happens if my project expires?

    If your project expires before reaching 100 supporters, we encourage you to improve your idea, re-submit it, and sharpen your promotion skills to get the support you need.

    Want 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 supporters?

    As always, success is ultimately in your hands, which is why we always encourage you to focus on a high quality presentation and promoting your projects to a broad audience outside the online LEGO fan community. If you don’t know where to start, learn from the Ideas members who have done just that. Check out these tips on getting a project to 10k:

     

    On behalf of the team, we’re pleased to bring you this update and hope you enjoy the improvements to the LEGO Ideas site. We’re looking forward to the third and final planned 2016 site update coming next month.

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